Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Bahasa Malaysia vs English
My boss and I had a long chat about the subject and we both agreed that we both couldn’t arbitrate which option would be a better one.
The brilliant Prof. Ungku Aziz stated his opinion that language is just a medium to getting the knowledge across. Any language would equally gives the same impact because the important substance here is the knowledge and not the language itself. Chandra Muzaffar said, PPSMI was a mistake. Che Det said, reverting to BM will be a mistake. Well, every one is entitled to his own opinion.
I am a kampong girl, proud one from Kampung Lundang, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Glamor sket – New Castle, Chelantanne.
Kelantanese are famous for our English Budu – speaking. Many may speak English but can’t never leave the budu accent behind. I did quite well during primary school which opened me for an opportunity to a boarding school for secondary, a reputable one in-fact – Tunku Kurshiah College. Together with me, there were two others from my batch whom were selected for the same which later was followed up by another one.
When I first arrived in TKC.. 21 years ago, I noticed a big green sign board with yellow lettering read as “SAVE OUR ENVIROMENT” placed at the first corner right after entering the Bukit Merbah compound. Out of the 3 words, I only understood the meaning of the middle word – OUR.
The other two – SAVE, ENVIROMENT – what the hell is that? So, you can judge my English standard back then. I believe I couldn’t say the same with my two friends. They surely comprehended the signboard well. This means, I couldn’t blame being a Kelantanese for having such poor English vocabulary knowledge. I do not how I got an ‘A’ for English in Peperiksaan Darjah 5! (Peperiksaan Darjah 5? Not even UPSR?… Oh! How I was from the dinosaur age)
In TKC, we had to sit for an English proficiency test every year to determine which Set we would be in for English classes. Obviously, I didn’t end up in the high set. Sure la… many of my friends at that time have already been reading “thick-complicated-adults” books of Mario Puzo la , Stephen King la, Sidney Sheldon etc, and me, I couldn’t even finish an Enid Blyton.
The good thing about streaming group of students into sets was, the lower sets comprise of very small number of students and the teacher really had the time to concentrate on each student whom was weak like me. So along the line, 5 years in TKC, my English did improve tremendously. I also thank many of my friends back then for never to belittled me of my bad English, instead helped me a lot whenever I seek them for any difficulties that I faced – Aliza Zainal Anuar, Hazatul Farah Abdullah, Fazlin Abu Hassan Shaari, Faridah Jamaluddin (Allahyarhamah), Sri Marni Zainal Abidin, Zurilawati Mohd Zam, Irmawati Muhammad Tahir….. Yup, in TKC – all of us are proud of our name to be said in full. Thus far, I remember majority of TKC friends name in full and of course the nick names too.
In TKC also, that I accepted my MARIO name with an open heart and being proud of it, not like during much younger days that I hated it for people kept asking me – ORANG APA NI? As a kid I used to pester my mami to file an oath and change my name to a simpler one. When she asked me what name do I want to change to, I remember choosing SITI ZAITON for a reason I, myself do not certain.
Studying in a local university, I wouldn’t say mastering English is that essential because we had our assignments, presentations done in Bahasa Malaysia. The one difficulty may be to understand the reference books which many of them are in English.
Working in a private sector with private jobs however, is not easy if the command of English is not good. I have many sub-ordinates under me whom are supposed to make my life easier. Somehow, it is not a smooth ride when I have to check not only the content of a letter, report or whatnot prepared by them but also the ‘English’. Kadang2 sampai lari maksud report when Present Tense and Past Tense are not understood and being jumbled up, don’t talk about Present Perfect Tense or Past Perfect Tense.
I always put my effort to help them with English, I even bought some primary and secondary school text books for English, Dictionaries and Thesaurus with my noble intention to help and to teach. Why school text books and not the advanced English learning referances? To be honest, because the fundamental is not correct! I am not saying I have the best command of English. No I am not, but with little extra capability, I want to share with others just like my friends whom had helped me on days ago.
I do not know for what exact reason that some group of people opposed in PPSMI. Really because they think by so doing the Malay culture soon will die? Or for political reason ? Me don’t know. But if it’s because of reason number one, I think that is so-so shallow. For what I am certain is, I am a no lesser Malay if I can speak English well or even other languages, Mandarin ka, Tamil ka, Thai ka, Nihon-go ka. Look at Senor Mahathir Lokman. People respect him for his capability mastering multiple of languages. But does that makes him a Mat Salleh for speaking English, or a French for speaking Francois, or a Phillipino for speaking Tagalog?
Takkan boleh diubah raut Melayu di muka – Eh! This could be a not so true statement in the current plastic surgery era - Michael Jackson could change, still DNA inside us can’t never change.
Sama jugak, that it makes me a no lesser Kelantanese, not even a second if I speak Bahasa Malaysia and not in Kelantanese dialect with non-Kelantanese people. Due respect to others.
So along with the announcement made by the Cabinet, they were saying some measures would be taken to uplift the English standard among school children. I want to see what measures they are talking about because at the end of the day, the language itself is a branch of knowledge and English for the truth of the matter is the world language, no one can deny it’s importance.
I can say my English is far-far better than my mami (when she speaks no English at all) but I am not proud of that if I cannot help my daughter to be BETTER than me. It's rather 'sayang' if at the age of 20’s, venturing into the working environment and she still need somebody else to correct her grammar … burdening others.